28 Mar, 2019 Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Young Women
18 and 19 years old, in the prime of their life, and both tragically dying from sudden cardiac events.
The deaths of Félicité Tomlinson (sister of One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson), 18, and Miss Teen Universe Lotte Van Der Zee, 19, have put heart disease in the spotlight. The news of both passing away from heart issues has forced the public to face the question – “Is anyone too young for heart disease?”.
The reality is, heart problems can strike at any age.
Sadly, Félicité and Lotte lost their lives to sudden cardiac events at very young ages, and with reasons that we may not ever know. With Félicité passing from a heart attack, and Lotte a cardiac arrest, we think that it is important to understand what this means to younger women, and how important it is to have a consistent heart health checkup throughout life.
These events have raised significant discussion in the Her Heart offices about the sudden impacts of sudden cardiovascular deaths in young women. Our further investigation led to research undertaken in Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) in young people, and some quite astonishing results.
A study from Denmark completed in 2017 focused on SCD in women aged between 1-35 years and how these are 1) underreported and explored, and 2) can be related to unexplained arrhythmias*, as well as underlying diseases, such as coronary artery disease^.
*An arrhythmia is where the heart stops suddenly, or goes into a dangerous rhythm of beating.
^Coronary artery disease is where the arteries on your heart narrow and reduce blood flow, which can be the underlying cause of a heart attack.
This research looked into correlation between men and women in sudden cardiac deaths, and how this links to inherited cardiac events (a family history of cardiac events). Of the 10-year study sampling the data of a large sample of Danish women, 135 died from a sudden cardiac event. The most fascinating fact, however, is that the cause of death remains unexplained for half of these women.
That’s 50% of deaths from an unexplainable sudden cardiac event.
Death is an especially difficult thing to manage when the victim is young, however without an explanation can often feel more painful, as there no real resolve. It is clear from this research, and many other studies, that there is still a long way to go in understanding women’s hearts.
What Can You Do?
Although this story is confronting, we want to ensure that heart disease is not viewed as a ‘bad’ news story, as there are multiple ways to manage and safeguard your heart.
Women know their own bodies more than anyone else, and especially know if something is wrong. If anything doesn’t feel right, speak up. A regular heart health check conducted by your GP is one way to rule out your potential for future heart events, so download our Checklist and take preventative action to secure the future of your heart.
It will love you for it.